Wednesday, March 8, 2023 @

Volume 5 Epilogue, Part 8

 Such was the case with her family. Her father, the main pillar of the family, lost his leg, and the family's finances were literally at the bottom... And then things started to turn around...
 "Even I know that..."
 She knows that. It can't be helped. The choices her parents made have led her to where she is today. The small amount of land that they were able to get with the money they got was still a blessing in disguise, as they didn't have to pay a small farm fee. Her second brother took over the land, and her third brother and herself got jobs outside the area. The money they send keeps their family fed. She understands. She understands that. But still...!!
 "It's unreasonable...!!!"
 The silent curse was about the social system. It was about their circumstances. How could this village be so different from the one in which she was born... while their family had suffered and sacrificed so much to live in the present? Why is this village so blessed?
 Even though she knows that these questions are meaningless, she cannot shake them off. And that is why she is a child in a sense. To be an adult is to admit a kind of unreasonableness and to give up.
 With such conflicting feelings, the girl heads for her destination. After walking for a while, she finally arrived at a new rice field on the outskirts of the village. Brand-new huts stand sparsely in the brand-new rice paddies.
 The headman of this village took pity on the peasants who had fled from the surrounding poor villages because they could not bear to collect the annual tribute, and he took them in and rented them this area of land for cultivation. He lent them farming tools and food and exempted them from collecting small farm fees for the first two years, which was an exceptionally generous gesture. And this year, the third year, was the first year for the payment of tenant farmers' fees in this new rice field...
 "Why are you holding a sickle, Miss Tamaki?"
 The girl asked with a look of dismay on her face as she saw a figure barefoot in the paddy field, picking weeds with a sickle, removing water weeds, and exterminating insect pests. ...Though her lord, as it turned out, smiled and waved at her with a carefree smile when recognizing her, the maid. No, no. That's not the reaction she's looking for... the girl inwardly plunged.
 "Why? Because if there are weeds, the rice won't grow well, will it? This is the first harvest of the year, if we have a bad harvest, we will have no food for the winter, won't we?"
 The girl frowns at her Lord's daughter who answers as if it were a matter of course. Of course, everything is strange. Too strange.
 The girl lets out a groan of exasperation at her Lord's daughter's slightly out-of-focus response and then sighs deeply as if she is trying to sort out her feelings. Then she makes a decision. She must take off her outward-looking face. And then...
 "A village headman's child shouldn't be playing with the soil with peasants and servants! You should think about your place!"
 The girl shouted in a strong tone and pointed out.
 And her words were common sense, except for the lack of etiquette. After all, this owner's family is the head of this village. The head village. Although his father was a low-ranking official, he had received an official rank from the imperial court. And now, his child working in the fields with a bunch of peasants...!
 The girl spins around on her heel and lunges at the snoring person in the shade off the bank. Then she kicks the person's butt with all her might.
 "Whoa! Ow...!!?"
 A high-pitched voice echoed. The person in question, who was wearing linen clothes that allowed for easy movement, stood up reflexively, their 'wolf ears and tail up' in sudden pain. The person stands up and stares at the girl, rubbing their buttocks. With teary eyes, the person glares at her.
 "Hey...! You! Suzune! What the hell are you doing?"
 "That's my line! You, our Lord's daughter's going to work in the field! Why don't you volunteer to do it instead! What are you an escort for!!?"
 The girl accuses her companion. She is really angry, and she is choked up. A very small part of her anger is directed at her own name, by the way, and it is an irrational accusation. ...Well, the result will be the same anyway.
 "What, protection!? That's not my job, not even to work in the field!!? Besides, that person likes to do it!?"
 "Don't complain. You are a servant!"
 The girl kicks the person's buttocks again with her knee as if to catch up with his excuses, showing the sword at their waist with one hand covered with a bandage. A sad puppy-like scream goes up. The half-youkai jumps up and down again and again as if a rabbit. But the half-youkai has no regrets. In fact, considering the opponent's position, it was quite merciful to get away with this much.
 The half-youkai has wolf ears on their head, a wolf tail on their hip, and one arm with black hair and sharp claws, though it is not visible because it is wrapped in a bandage. A half-youkai servant, probably of wolf descent, was the identity of her Lord's daughter's companion, and the person whose buttocks the girl was repeatedly kicking now.
 This half-youkai, who had snuck into a hut on the outskirts of the village about a year ago and was caught fainting in agony from a stomach ache caused by food (moldy) that had been left there, was initially thought to be a wanted person or an exile because of their pathetic and shabby appearance.
 The girl did not trust the half-youkai who had invaded the village and devoured the hut's food without permission, but the village headman and others had other impressions of the half-youkai. They took pity on this poor half-youkai and hired the half-youkai as a servant in the house. The half-youkai is a very good-natured person. But what if this guy was a criminal? Still, they even lend this person weapons like guards because this person knows how to use them... It is really appalling that the people in the township accept her without any caution, regardless of what such a girl thinks.
 And it's even more amusing to see a half-youkai who belongs to the village headman snoring in the shade of a tree, while the family members of the headman are working hard in the fields. What purpose is this guy accompanying?
 "Suzune, could you please stop torturing me so much? You've been keeping me awake all through the night, you know? You must be sleepy."
 "Of course I do!!"
 This half-Youkai indeed has good eyesight and hearing, so together with the hired guards, this guy was patrolling the roads at night to keep the beasts from devouring the fields of the township, but this is no excuse for the girl. In fact, she knew that the previous night, during their night watch duty, the half-youkai had boldly taken sake and dried fish from the mansion's storehouse, claiming that "a hungry man is not fit for battle." It was a truly shameless attitude.
 "Anyway! Stop resuming work while talking! Let the peasants here do that kind of work! Think about your own position, Miss Tamaki!"
 "But from this year's harvest, they're going to pay the farmer's fee, aren't they? There are still many weak people, and they have to pay 40% of the crop fee, isn't that pitiful? Half of the harvest is taken!"
 "Rather it's too low!"
 Although her lord was concerned about the farmers and mentioned the reason, the girl was quick to butt in. Forty percent of the farmer's fee is nothing. In this village, the annual tribute is as low as 3 kou and 7 min (a specific amount of land tax that was typically paid by farmers during the Edo period in Japan), but in the cold village where the girl comes from, the ratio is the exact opposite. The average annual tribute is 5 kou and 5 min, while even in the estate of the compassionate minister known for his kindness, it is 4 kou and 6 min. The average annual tribute in this region is simply too low. The girl thought that if she was still hungry, the worst she could do was to eat chestnuts. ...At least that's what they did. (Note: one kou was equal to about 0.11 hectares or 0.27 acres, and one min was equal to about 0.009 hectares or 0.022 acres.)
 "Kuh~? You've got a menstrual period, right!? It must be! You don't have enough blood, you're so tired. That's why you're so pissed off...!!"
 "You d*mned guy, I'm gonna kill you...?"
 The wolf half-youkai says with tears in his eyes, rubbing his butt against the conversation between the Lord's daughter and the girl. The girl glares at the servant who doesn't reflect on their attitude and words at all with a murderous look in her eyes. What a mouthful this guy is. Anyway, she kicked him on the buttocks to make an example. "Aaah!" and so, a scream echoed.
 "A-n-y-w-a-y!! Miss, the breakfast is ready! Please stop that hard work and come quickly!"
 The words were respectful, but the tone of the voice was quite abusive as if shouting. The tone was strong and full of determination.
 "Okay! I get it. ...Already, Suzune is so stubborn."
 The young lady looks disappointed at the order from the girl. The girl in question orders the half-youkai servant to pour well water into a tub and bring it to wash her Lord's daughter's daughter mud-stained hands and feet.
 "And why did you leave your clothes on the grass like this!! What are you going to do if you get fleas on them!! Oh, God! I'll have to smother them with deworming powder later...!"
 "Here, I brought it. Is this okay?"
 As the girl was flapping the silk kimono left on the grass and complaining, a half-youkai comes back from the well to draw water, rubbing his buttocks. Half-youkai, as one might expect, is very quick at this kind of heavy work.
 "Yes, thank you. And Miss Tamaki!!"
 "I understand, don't get mad at me!?"
 Reluctantly, her lord's daughter comes out of the paddy field to wipe off the mud and wash off every mud with the bucket. Her lord's daughter also washed away the gravel between their fingernails. The cold well water was pleasant in the summer heat.
 "...That's about it. Now, I'm going to dress you, so don't move, okay?"
 "Oh, no, I'm not a baby..."
 "Miss Tamaki?"
 The lord's daughter accepts the maid's order in the face of the tremendous pressure in her voice. A servant of a half-youkai mutters "Oh my god" at their side. To be honest, this maid's attitude seems to be unbecoming of one who is addressing her Lord's daughter, but no one pointed this out.
 The girl puts on the clothes left on the grass for her Lord's daughter. She ties it tightly with a sash and stretches out the wrinkles to make it presentable.
 "Hey, isn't it a little... tight?"
 "If I don't make it tight, it will be hard to move and you will take it off soon."
 The girl mercilessly tightens her lord's belt with her declaration. "Please understand your position. You are no longer in a position where you can frolic around in a white, thin outfit covered in mud like when we first met."
 The girl re-dresses her Lord's daughter's clothes with a familiar hand. However, the tightness of the clothes made it hard. So, the Lord's daughter strokes their waist and looks discouraged.
 "That's about right. ...Now what can I do about your hair?"
 The next moment, the girl lets down her Lord's daughter's hair, which was roughly tied up with a clasp. With a snap, the hair that had been held in place spread out, and the black hair, which had grown to just above the shoulders, hung down.
 "What are you doing!!?"
 "You can't come up to the house with your hair like that. Please bear with it and let your hair down! Or would you like me to spend some time fixing your hair before entering the estate?"
 When the girl declared so, it was hard to argue with her. Even the most generous family has a limit to what they can ignore. After all, hair is a woman's life.
 "But... Uuu!?"
 The Lord's daughter tries to make some excuse, but the sound of the stomach rumbling the next moment causes the Lord's daughter to stroke their belly and feel slightly embarrassed.
 "......Today's breakfast is grilled sweetfish and rolled egg."
 The Lord's daughter's eyes lit up at the menu the girl had given her. She especially liked rolled eggs.
 "If you don't come back soon, your brothers and sisters may take it from you."
 "What? I understand. ...Suzune, thanks for coming to pick me up. ...Iruka, thank you for accompanying me."
 The Lord's daughter replies to both of them with heartfelt thanks. A village headman's child thanks a maid and a servant. It is an unusual and extraordinary attitude in this world, but in this village, and for 'she', it is too natural.
 "You're welcome, Miss Tamaki."
 "Let's get out of here, shall we? I'm already hungry."
 The maid responded to her gratitude in her own ways. By the way, the maid girl glares at half-youkai's mannerisms with a sideways glance, but that is usual. The Lord's daughter, 'she' laughs at them.
 ...This sight was just a small difference of buttonholes. If a cute, courageous, and kind boy, who in one world line would have been subjected to a cruel and harsh fate, was instead born as a cute girl with a boyish charm, who in the world would care? How can people notice the difference? But for someone who knows the fate of this world, it is certainly too great, and too terrible a difference.
 ...and the person in question was still unaware of the difference.
 "Yeah. Is that about right? Well, we're all hungry... shall we all go home together?"
 The village headman's daughter turns around to check her own appearance and speaks to her two best friends. She speaks to them with a pure smile that is neither careless nor evil. It is as if she knows only the gentle world.
 It was an ordinary but undoubtedly happy daily life for 'Tamaki,' the daughter of the Hotaruya family, the ruling clan of the paradise-like Hotaruya (Firefly) village, in the harsh northern lands of unforgiving nature...

A translated wiki from the pixiv: here

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